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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2009

UNGA 64: Third Committee: Advancement of Women

Statement by Helen Horsington, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Australia to the UN, on behalf of Canada, Australia and NZ, 13 October 2009

I have the privilege of speaking today on behalf of Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

First of all, let me begin, by stating in this the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, CANZ reaffirms our strong commitment and support of gender equality as a fundamental human right.

Removing discrimination and actively supporting women’s full participation in economic, social and political life is a key factor in reducing poverty, enhancing economic growth and democratic governance, and increasing the wellbeing of women, girls and their families.

For these reasons CANZ reaffirms our unwavering commitment to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the outcome of Beijing Plus Five, the Cairo Programme of Action and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. In addition, the international community has affirmed the spirit of these agreements by recognising the importance of gender equality to development through the Millennium Development Goals. Gender equality and the empowerment of women are not only goals in their own right, but are also an essential means by which to achieve all of the Millennium Development Goals.

Of all the Millennium Development Goals, MDG 5 on maternal health is the one on which we have made least progress. Every year over 500,000 women die during pregnancy and childbirth. Most of these deaths are preventable.  By any standard, this is a serious human rights issue, and we would remind states of our collective commitments made in Cairo in 1994.  In this light, we support the Human Rights Council's adoption of a resolution on preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights, led by Colombia and New Zealand.  We welcome the increased co-ordination between donors on funding for maternal health and morbidity and welcome and support the active and positive role of WHO, UNFPA and UNICEF in this area.   

Mr Chairperson, in March 2010, the Commission on the Status of Women will undertake a fifteen-year review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The Declaration embodies the commitment of the international community to the advancement of women and to the implementation of the Platform for Action, ensuring that a gender perspective is reflected in all policies and programs at the national, regional and international levels. We ask Member States to seize this opportunity to renew their commitment to implementation of the Platform for Action and ensure equal rights for men and women become a reality.

In the lead up to Beijing +15, we welcome and strongly support the adoption of the System-Wide Coherence resolution on 14 September 2009 which calls for the creation of a composite gender equality entity bringing together the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI), UNIFEM, INSTRAW and the Division for the Advancement of Women.  In particular, we call on the Secretary General to ensure early recruitment of a strong and competent Under-Secretary-General to build a dynamic entity able to fulfil its mandate.

While the UN has taken an important step towards ending persistent gender discrimination, equality is not yet won. CANZ believes that it is now time for Member States to take active measures to further improve the status of women, in particular women’s safety, economic wellbeing, and status in society. Empowering women is not just a women’s issue but requires the active participation of both men and women. It is time for men and women to work together and deliver gender equality that benefits us all.

Thank you, Mr.Chairperson.

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